Global Retail Expansion: The Convergence of Marketing, Customer Service, and Supply Chain Strategies
As the global market becomes ever more connected, more and more retailers are struggling to keep up with their international expansion. Brands who never anticipated going global are finding that they all of a sudden are, thanks to the progression of e-commerce and increasing customer expectations.
Wisely, this is where many are seeking assistance, and leveraging their cross-functional leadership's knowledge and expertise to align their strategies and goals in relation to global retail and e-commerce expansion—a process that should also be embraced by any logistics professionals that would like to see better forecasting and less stranded inventory.
Omni-channel Expansion Strategy
Setting up localized websites to target global buyers with online orders is certainly the first step, and an important one to get right. However, it isn't enough to rest on. You can certainly begin digitally, but as sales increase in a country it becomes vital that you have inventory positioned there, along with customer service and a retail footprint, allowing you to quickly scale sales at a reduced total landed cost and provide customers with the quick delivery times they expect.
Omni-channel Marketing With the Right Platform
With an omni-channel approach, the chance for success within any single market increases—however careful consideration should be given to which markets you choose to pursue. The same is true for digital marketing. Trying to launch into 50 new currencies and languages will be confusing and costly, with a high risk of mistakes. Take a tiered approach, identifying the key markets to expand into first and making sure your localization process is implemented properly. It's highly beneficial to work with a digital agency such as Red Hot Penny, who are familiar with localization not just in terms of currency and language, but right down to the difference in cultural expectations, both for marketing and e-commerce platform customization. Having the right experts in your corner could easily be the difference between success and failure, and getting it wrong can be a costly mistake.
Omni-channel Customer Support
Once you have begun to enter new markets, you must be ready to field calls, emails, visitors, and social inquiries—from the locally preferred social networks—rapidly, effectively and with the nuances of a local. Supporting multiple languages can be effectively achieved with the help of the right outsourced partner, like Sutherland Global Services, that can be your omni-agent as you conquer the world. There's a high demand globally for U.S. and European retail brands, but consumers still want—and expect—localized customer support in their own language and at hours convenient to them.
Omni-channel Logistics and Transportation
For U.S. retailers, a tiered approach can lead to a steady and sustainable growth. Starting with countries with the same or similar languages like the United Kingdom and Australia will allow you to access global markets and test strategies with less of an upfront investment.
Once you're able to validate your approach, you can branch out into other countries and regions like Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Scandinavia. Other areas in the EU, China, and Japan are also lucrative, but incredibly different, and require an experienced hand to navigate. At the end of the day it's better to start with a solid foundation for successfully scaling your operation.
An intercontinental fulfillment option from the United States is a good place to start, working with a global air freight forwarder that is able to manage the entire omni-channel retailing process in-house, from down route access at origin through line haul and local injection services at destination. In short, regardless of the distance, urgency, or budget, there are options.
When you reach global scale it's beneficial to look at outsourced geographical locations to hold inventory for all sales channels close to key consumer markets, as the omni-channel logistics service moves away from sales-specific distribution centers. This benefits consumers with a far more seamless and consistent experience, providing an improved and standardized delivery experience even in global markets, and benefits retailers with improved fulfillment speed from one region to the next.
It should be noted that returns management is one of the key roadblocks to developing a global e-commerce offering, and an effective worldwide returns policy is a vital stepping stone towards true omni-channel retailing excellence. Ensure that you choose the right provider for a warehousing solution that is able to provide a one-stop returns service with a bigger global reach than anyone else in the business.